Is it wise to stay home and pay off my student debts?

student debt Asian graduateI WANT, I WANT, I WANT


Ah, the student debt fever doesn’t hit until school is done and reality hits the young adults of today. End of the school year 2014 is quickly approaching which means many graduates will be free from their education but not from their student debts.

Today’s post is based on a question in the CBB mailbox from a student fan who was looking to me and all of you for some advice on what he/she should do after University because of student debt load.

It’s funny how many people when given lump sums of money or money in general will live in the moment especially if they don’t have any savings to back them up.

The feeling of happiness that money brings to most people overrides anything that will happen after the fact such as paying it back.

I know a friend of ours who year after year gets in a financial bind and has to get a loan from whoever is silly enough to give it to them.

In the months leading up to actually finding someone to give them a loan to pay off their debt they are miserable, have no money and complain about having no money to pay debts off so they need to find a loan.

The minute they find a loan it’s like their entire world does a 360 as if they won the lottery. No, you still need to pay that money back. Once they come off their cloud loan 649 and the bills come rolling it the cycle starts all over again.

You can attribute the same feeling at Christmas time when shoppers are raiding the malls with credit card in hand, the fancy shiny decorations, Christmas lights etc. take over their brains and they shop until the credit card is maxed out.

It’s not until January hits that they come down from that cloud and realize, what have we done?. The miserable, depressed people come back to earth and have to find a way to pay down credit card debts.

There are no two ways around debt whether you accumulate it as student debts or after school. When students go to University and College they are bombarded with deals from credit card companies and store credit cards. Why? They know they are vulnerable and why not start them off on the wrong foot?

University and College students and credit card debt go hand in hand. It makes some students feel like adults with prestige to whip out a credit card but to be honest, I’d say having cash in the bank would make me feel better than saying charge it.

If they are silly enough not to understand how to manage money then you can bet someone will swoop in and say hey, we’ll take advantage of that. Are they really taking advantage though? Not really.

It’s up to the student to know how much student debt they can afford to accumulate and what they hope to do after to pay back that student debt. Living life with terrible credit if you can’t pay back your loans is not a place you will want to be in especially when you have the means to control that debt accumulation by simply not spending money on crap.

I’m not sure if parents go over any type of life lessons before the kids head off to school, especially when it comes to money but my advice to any parents out there, do it.

If you are parents who are deep in debt yourselves and have no idea where to start financially find someone who can help not only yourselves but your children. Maybe you need financial motivation and for many that involves a kick-start by someone going over their financial history and telling them where they are going wrong.

The best thing you can do is teach your children that accumulating OSAP loans is one thing but digging themselves a grave with credit card debt buying booze, clothes, and stuff is another.

Sometimes it’s hard to come off that cloud when you are in school because it’s a long ride sometimes years. What is the average student loan debt? 

I can’t tell you that number but for most students who go to College and University they are coming up with enough OSAP student loan debt that may just take them years to pay off if they pay the minimum payments.

Sure you can pay your OSAP loans off faster but that’s only if you have the cash to do it. Don’t assume that after University you will be making a 6 figure income either, time to wake up.


Student debt


My reader wants to know if he/she should stay home and pay off their student debts before venturing out into their own apartment to live life as an adult.

My answer would be if your parents don’t mind then go for it. If they are willing to help you get your student debt under control and you are committed to getting rid of that student debt as fast as possible then accept that offer.

Life isn’t going to run away, and if you meet the love of your life than they should understand why you are still living with your parents. If they are financially savvy themselves they will support your efforts to get rid of any debts before moving forward in the love and relationship departments such as moving in together or marriage.

Living with your parents is not a bad thing to pay off student debt but you also don’t want to take advantage of your parents. Remember that your parents have bills to pay and have to go to work every day as well.

Nothing in life is free. Not everyone is lucky to have parents to pay for their education so they are left with OSAP loans and other student debt to pay off.

This is a great time to put that budget into play especially if you never used a student budget when you were in school. A budget will save you financially if you aren’t able to keep afloat on your own.

You can download my free excel budget spreadsheet to get you started and read my 10 step budgeting series to give you an idea of where we began with our budget.

There are people who don’t need a budget but for many a budget is a life saver. Without a budget we wouldn’t be where we are today in terms of our debt-free status and net worth.

If your parents ask you to pay for a bit of rent or food then oblige because if you don’t pay them you’d have to pay someone else. They are not being mean they are teaching you life lessons. Trust me when I say it will benefit you down the road.


Moving home


I moved back in with my parents for a while at one point in my life before I moved to Canada and I paid them rent but I also did some renovations for them around the house.

I’m a handy guy and I love renovating spaces in homes. Think of ways you can help your parents where they might have to hire someone. If you have the skills they are looking for they may just hire you like my parents did.

I bartered my skills to pay off living with them even though I didn’t have any student debt to pay back. When I went to University I paid my way without any student debts by working in the summers and throughout the school year. I was frugal with my money even though I wish I had used a budget but I still made sure I didn’t waste it.

This is also another option for students especially if you can find a part-time job that is flexible with your school hours. The faster you can get rid of that school debt the fast you can get on with your life without having the burden of debt hanging over your shoulders.

Student debt doesn’t have to be scary unless you make it scary by accumulating more than you need and not doing everything you can to pay it back.

Stop thinking you need to live the dream when you are done school because for most that never happens. It has nothing to do with being uncool if you live with your parents. Who cares? You will be the last one laughing if you have little to no debt when you venture out on your own.

Even if you don’t have the option to move back in with your parents, rent a room if you have to instead of an apartment. Whatever option costs you less to pay down your student debts, think about that option.

Know what is right for you and think clearly because these debts may affect the rest of your life or a good chunk of the years where you should be building wealth.

Keep your goals in place and you will walk many miles longer than those who think they must have the house with the white picket fence, boats, vacations, clothes etc before their financial time.

How did you pay off your student debts fast? Did you move back with your parents? What advice would you give to this student reader?




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The costs of fertility treatments to create a miracle

Time for kids fertilityA  STORY OF A COUPLES STRUGGLE


Fertility treatment centers across Canada are visited every day from couples who are struggling to conceive.

Each week I find that someone is coming to the blog looking for answers on the costs of fertility treatments, ovulation tests, what infertility is, fertility calendars, fertility calculators and so on.

The reality is there are not always any real answers and the doctors will put you through a series of tests and medications that will cost you out-of-pocket if you don’t have the benefits coverage to pay.

Many couples will go into debt or use their life savings for an ounce of hope and stop at nothing from re-mortgaging their homes, borrowing money or using credit cards to fund fertility treatments.

Sadly, not every treatment has a happy ending and costs can mount up month after month, year after year.

If both your fallopian tubes are blocked In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is not covered under OHIP but the province of Ontario will cover a portion of the costs of IVF but when they say a portion it’s a small portion.

Costs can run you upwards of $12,000-$14,000  including medications depending on where you go.

A full-price list of costs from the fertility clinic at The London Health Science Centre will give you an idea of what types of expenses you will be looking at. Something is better than nothing though.

If you’ve been a long time reader of Canadian Budget Binder then today’s guest writer Jen P is no stranger to you. Jen and her husband came to me almost 2 years ago now asking for help with their budget.

I worked hard with Jen for hours on end, days on end but we finally worked out a budget that worked for them. Oddly enough she did most of the work. Sometimes we believe we can’t achieve something until we get in and do it ourselves.

Thankfully the budget was put in place because over the past year they have had their ups and downs with conception and Jen is here to share her story of tears, hope, miracles and inspire you to believe and never give up. What is meant to be, will be.

Hi Mr.CBB and Fans,

As you already know from the introduction above my name is Jen and I hope that if I can inspire any of you who read this today that miracles do happen and when they don’t we must find ways to cope with our emotions.

I was married in my early 20’s and during that time I was adamant that I didn’t want children. I was divorced in my late 20’s and then met my current husband.

Within one week of my 30th birthday I suddenly realized that I was now with the right man and I wanted to have a family. I made an appointment with my family doctor and got a referral to a genetic counsellor.

I have a family history of spina bifida so I wanted to make sure it wouldn’t be a great concern for us and a prescription for high dose folic acid prenatal vitamins. I started tracking my cycle with and ovulation calendar/calculator.

We tried to conceive for almost a year when I thought that I should seek out help (and I was tired of month after month of disappointment) and looked for answers.

My family doctor referred me to an OB-GYN. She tracked my cycle for a few months and when I still hadn’t conceived she referred me to a fertility clinic that she also worked for.


Fertility clinic


I went to the fertility clinic where they explained that they had to complete a month of several tests and cycle monitoring.

This consisted of:

  • On day one of my cycle I had to call the clinic.  At this time they book:
  • A full bladder ultrasound and a transvaginal ultrasound for either day 2, 3, 4 or 5 of my cycle.
  • 3D ultrasound between days 20 to 25 of your cycle
  • A Saline Sonohysterogram test that investigates the inside of your uterus to look for any abnormalities done between day 5 to day 11 of your cycle (I found this test extremely painful- way more so than being in labour)
  • A Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) test done in a hospital where a colourless dye is injected through your cervix and uterus.  It investigates your fallopian tubes and your uterus (I also found this test very painful).
  • Cycle monitoring – involves serial ultrasounds to assess the endometrium (lining of the uterus) and to determine how the follicles (eggs) in your ovaries are developing.  Blood work is also required to help them determine when you are most likely to ovulate.  After each ultrasound you see a doctor and are advised when to come back for follow-up ultrasounds.  This is usually done daily between day 10 to 16 of your cycle.


Cost of fertility


They also do female blood work testing hormones (including a $85 fee for a test that looks at basically whether you have enough eggs left to try to conceive) at the beginning of your cycle and infectious screening blood work (testing for Hepatitis B and C, as well as HIV). Cultures for Gonorrhea and Chlamydia are also done.

The male patient must have the infectious screening blood work and a semen analysis to make sure that everything is ok on his end something that most people put out of their minds. They always seem to think it’s the woman but in many cases it’s the man. Don’t rule it out on your own.

We were diagnosed with “unknown infertility” (basically all of my tests came out fine and all of my husband’s tests came out fine). My doctor said she would like to perform laparoscopic surgery on my uterus to see if they could find any problems and remove a polyp they found during the Saline Sonohysterogram test.

They performed the surgery and removed a polyp and I went home to recover I had a horrible reaction to the pain medication they gave me so my recovery was a little more difficult. I was in a lot of pain.

It felt like the worst cramps a woman could ever have and I vomited the whole drive home. Up to this point everything had been free (or covered under the provincial health plan).

The doctor suggested that the following month I try a cycle of Serophene AKA Clomid (a drug) and IUI (intrauterine insemination AKA artificial insemination – cost $350).

What is IUI/Artificial Insemination?

IUI/Artificial Insemination is where they have the male provide a semen sample early in the morning. It is then sent to the lab where they “wash” it, getting rid of any “defective” sperm.

They analyze what is left to make sure it is a good count with good motility. Later in the morning the female patient is inseminated in an examination room with a syringe with a tube at the end.

I felt like I wanted to try using the drug but hold off on the IUI. It was at this point that we had to pay a $300/year cycle monitoring fee that covers your ultrasounds, blood work, doctors, etc.

We just put in on our credit card and figured we’d pay that off with our credit line. The drug they prescribed was covered under my drug benefit plan at work.

So that month we decided upon using Serophene and just having regular intercourse. I went through the daily cycle monitoring and one afternoon they called and said that my hormone levels had spiked and it was time to have intercourse for the next 3 days.

We obliged and then played the waiting game.


Our miracle


ultra sound Jen

One Saturday night we went to a stag and doe for my cousin. I had a beer and some munchies and it didn’t taste that great so I left it and went on with the night while my hubby drank the night away.

I woke up around 7am and for some reason I felt compelled to do a pregnancy test (even though the fertility clinic does them for free they said I couldn’t have the test for 5 more days and I had purchased a double pack of “First Response” tests previously).

I did the test, put it on my nightstand and rolled back over to go back to sleep. I tossed and turned so I decided to check the test. It was positive! I couldn’t believe it. I rechecked the instructions to confirm. I woke my poor extremely hung over hubby up to tell him.

Obviously he didn’t react very well. We got up and drove to the fertility clinic to confirm with a blood test. They told me they’d call me in the afternoon with the results.

I couldn’t contain myself. I received the most disappointing call in the afternoon…their machine for doing blood work had broken down and I wouldn’t get my results until the next morning.

I went to a baby shower that afternoon and on my way home I picked up another pregnancy test (this one was digital with a $20 price tag but I just didn’t care at the time).

Money is no object I guess when you’re dealing with finding out you are pregnant. I know many women who have used all sorts of tests just to make sure that they weren’t seeing things or other tests were accurate.

That pregnancy test came out positive as well!

The next morning we were thrilled to receive confirmation from the clinic that I was indeed pregnant! A few days later I was in Dollarama and noticed they sold pregnancy tests. I got a little chuckle out of it and decided I try one to see how accurate they were, knowing that I was already pregnant.

Shockingly it came out positive as well and we knew it was time to get the baby budget in order or any budget for that matter. We were thrilled to conceive that very first month after the surgery. There were no more costs involved. They monitored my pregnancy until I could find a local OB-GYN.

Adam when born

Fast forward three years later…

We wanted to expand our family and started trying to conceive once again. We were feeling a little more positive this time as so many people said getting pregnant the second time around was always easier.

My naturopath referred me to a fertility doctor at another clinic she works at that specializes in thyroid conditions (which I have) to see if that was posing a problem.

He checked me out and said all looked well and he felt I’d have no trouble getting pregnant but he prescribed me a drug (Letrozole – that is known as a breast cancer drug) that could help out a little.

We tried a few months on our own and when that didn’t work I started the medication he prescribed. It had awful side effects. I had aches and pains, I was emotional, quick-tempered and just not myself.

I hated it and after 4 months of using that medication I asked that doctor to refer me back to the fertility clinic I previously used as it was a much shorter drive.

We once again went through a month of horrible tests and cycle monitoring. This time we were diagnosed with “second degree unknown infertility” (the same as before but a second time).

This time my doctor didn’t suggest surgery but did suggest IUI and Serophene again. We once again opted to use Serophene which is covered under my drug plan and hold off on the IUI.

We had to pay the $300/year cycle monitoring fee again at this time (which we once again paid for with our credit card, but this time it was just to get the rewards points.

We had the money in our savings account to pay for it. We were also told that it’s tax-deductible so we’ll try claiming it this time around).

We were unsuccessful at conceiving that month and we decided that we would try a few more months the same way. After a few more disappointing months we decided that we weren’t getting any younger so we opted for the cycle of IUI and Serophene.

This was no different from what I was used to with regular cycle monitoring however when I got to a certain point in my cycle (near ovulation).

They told me I’d have to pay $85 and go see a nurse to receive an injection pen that I would have to use that night on myself to trigger ovulation since my egg and lining had reached the size that is ideal.

I paid the $85 and went home only to receive a call that afternoon from the clinic that I did not need to use that injection that night and to put it away perhaps for another cycle (I was a little angry at that suggestion seeming as it didn’t offer a very positive outcome).

A few days later I had to go in for the IUI (which took only a few minutes) and pay $350 (paid for on credit as well for the rewards points but had the savings).

Then the waiting began. That cycle ended up being extremely disappointing to me. Not only was I not pregnant, I felt like I literally threw away $350. That was very emotional for me.

During this time I had also been regularly seeing my naturopath for acupuncture related to back pain. She also specializes in fertility so she began doing acupuncture for fertility and kept track of my results from tests at the clinic. A naturopath is also something that is covered by my benefit plan.


Preparing for surgery


I decided I’d speak to my doctor about the possibility of surgery again to see if it would help like it did last time. My doctor thought it would be a great idea to do exploratory surgery. I booked my surgery for November (we were in September at that time) and in the meantime kept trying.

November came and it was time for surgery. My sick time at work had been reduced this year so I only booked off 3 days for the surgery and recovery (plus I had Saturday and Sunday in there).

I was pretty nervous and hungry waiting for my surgery as I wasn’t allowed to eat. An emergency ended up taking over our operating room so my surgery ended up being delayed almost 8 hours!

What a nightmare.

My surgery went well and they found nothing wrong with me so we venture on. The following month the doctor once again suggested going with IUI and Serophene.

Because it was December and such an expensive month already with Christmas we decided to wait until January as Ken had lots of overtime pay coming to him.

I put a lot of hope into December’s cycle as I got pregnant following surgery last time. I went through the cycle and once again was very disappointed.

I found out on New Year’s Eve that I wasn’t pregnant (the clinic had called to tell me my test was negative). I was devastated. I had a pretty awful evening filled with tears.

I met with my doctor a few days later and we decided to try a new medication. This would be an injectable medication (Gonal F) that I would administer myself daily for 5-10 days (it is injected into the stomach every night before bed).

Price tag on this fertility medication: $998.

Thank goodness it was covered by my works benefits plan. On day 9 of my cycle I received a very disappointing call that my body was ovulating on its own and it was way too early.

They (in a roundabout way) told me to not waste my money on IUI this month, especially when I told them that Ken told me he only wanted to pay for one IUI….no more after that.

So we had to try getting pregnant with no fertility meds and that meant doing it the good old-fashioned way in January 2014. Once again, it was a very disappointing month. We decided to try it all over again in February with some minor changes to the fertility cycle.

February had to have been one of the hardest months yet. Starting on day 3 of my cycle I had to inject myself in the stomach with the medication until ovulation.

Ovulation was being delayed this cycle by another injection I had to give it to myself daily into the stomach but this time in the morning. When my egg and lining reached the size they find optimal I was given yet another medication to inject into my stomach to trigger ovulation.

The side effects of these medications at this point had really begun to take a toll on me and our relationship. All of the medications I had taken for the last year had similar side effects but they seemed to be getting worse.

At this point I had gained 17lbs and was incredibly bloated. Nothing fit. I was buying new clothes weekly so I could be more comfortable at work.

After a heart to heart with Ken he in a roundabout way told me that if I stayed on these drugs I wouldn’t get pregnant because we’d be divorced before then.

These drugs changed my personality. They made me extremely emotional and I felt like I had bi-polar disorder. The “big day” came and I did another round of IUI with another price tag of $350.

The cost of the medications and IUI this fertility cycle cost over $2000. Thank goodness for my benefits covering all but the $350 for IUI (which will be claimed on my taxes as a medical expense).

I was sure, that with this much intervention and everything working in my favour that this would be the month. The month I conceived. Unfortunately I was wrong.

I had been more devastated this month than any other month in the last year since we started trying (February had marked one year of trying).

Jen ken and AdamI thought about quitting but I paid for a year of cycle monitoring at the clinic which would take me to June.

I decided that I would quit the fertility drugs but keep monitoring my cycle at the clinic and try naturally to conceive.

I also decided that I needed a distraction from everything so I rejoined Weight Watchers to lose the 17lbs I had gained in the last year.

Budgeting made a difference this time around as we actually had savings in the bank to pay for our treatment outright.

If you remember back almost 2 years ago now we started to budget with Mr.CBB.

I’m so thankful that we did because it’s helped us throughout the savings process for our fertility treatments.

What a difference it made in so many ways. It was great to not have to stress about where the money was going to come from this time around.

It just meant using some savings and having to pass on some home improvements we had wanted to do this summer (new deck furniture and an awning or something.

In the meantime we will continue to try to conceive until June and see where it takes us. For all of you couples out there don’t give up because you never know when a miracle might happen.

I tuck my little miracle into bed every night and he wakes me up every morning to say he loves me and I love him.

-Jen P



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How my co-op program shaped my work ethics

Co=op program- Penguin by the pool EXPERIENCE LASTS A LIFE-TIME


Co-op programs have been around for ages now and the kids that do get involved have for the most part come out from the placement with a positive learning experience.

We’ve talked about career choices and how they should be your own and not up to your parents and taking advantage of any co-op program experience might be your ticket to self-learning.

While relaxing a little last night and watching some programs that had been previously recorded the show “Undercover Boss Canada” came on.

The television program is based on a British television show called “Back to the Floor” from a several years ago and encourages the Boss to get back to the nitty-gritty.

The Undercover Boss segment in question was about the “Toronto Zoo” which in itself was very interesting but also made me think about my involvement in a ‘Work Experience‘ as we call it in the UK a ‘Co-op Program‘ in Canada when I was still in school.


Co-op program


What is a co-op program?

Also known as co-operative education in Canada securing a co-op placement is a head start above the competition when it comes time to look for your full-time job.

If you work at a place that accepts co-op students then you know exactly what a co-op program may be and why it’s important to a young adult. You may also own a business and encourage a co-op program at your establishment to help build relationships with the very adults you may hire in the future.

A co-op program may be proper work experience in a field that you excel in or are interested in getting involved in as a career as you get older such as an apprenticeship, finance or working in the medical field etc. It was a way to get hands on experience so you knew what the job entailed from a basic standpoint for the most part.

You can participate while you are in High School, College or even University where you may also find that you get paid for working in a co-op program or job placement program.

Keep in mind that there are eligibility requirements when getting involved with a co-op program so do you your research so you know what it entails.

It’s a way to take what you’ve learned in school and apply it in a placement where you can experience what working in the real world in that position may be like. It’s like “test driving” your potential career as the government website states.

The smartest thing you can do while testing out your potential career is to network like crazy. They say it’s not what you know but who you know but I believe it’s both so chat away and be friendly.

If you are hoping to score a summer job as a student from the co-op placement don’t rule it out and don’t be shy to ask your boss or the Human Resources department while you are learning.

Just be aware that if you are accepted into a co-op program in Canada that any additional costs will be coming out of your own pocket. It may seem like you are spending more money to learn however this work experience will look great on your resume and you can’t put a number on that.


Growing up


As all children start growing up there are always a few repeating careers that pop up in their brains and I was no exception. I was determined to be a Veterinarian, mainly because I adored animals and loved the medical field.

While in school at the age of 15-16 I got the opportunity to complete my work experience in a Zoo. I’m not a complainer so cleaning out some of the animals although stinky was just part of the experience.

The high point during my co-op program for me was feeding the penguins and then having to clean out there pool. Picking up penguins is not easy feat, although they are not built for walking or should I say waddling they are quicker than you think.

The reason they needed to be picked up is that penguins don’t want to leave the pool so you end up with a few in the bottom of the pool once all the water is drained.

You need to pull out the penguins because you have to scrub the walls and floor of the pool, followed by a good rinse.

This may sound like I had a hard life growing up but I used to cycle to work in the morning and back again at the end of the day. Start time was 6am, so getting up early was not something I had considered before this co-op program.

What’s even worse is that we didn’t even get paid for our hours of work. I wasn’t bothered by this as the experience of working with such a variety of animals was enough in itself.


Life experience


Becoming a Veterinarian never came to fruition as I grew up my brain changed and things went in a different direction. The co-op program however did give me some skills that followed me into the early years of my working career.

One of the greatest parts of my co-op program was when I would be feeding the animals and visitors to the zoo would come to me and ask me questions. It taught me how to interact with people and not be shy in sharing my knowledge although I’m not that shy to begin with.

I also learned life lessons by getting up early and being self-reliant by getting myself to work and back. I didn’t rely on my parents to knock on my door and start the car to get me to my co-op program.

Having my co-op program work experience on an early resume for part-time jobs helped along with the other jobs I did, like newspaper round etc.

Sometimes getting the job shovelling poo can also be rewarding because I was able to learn that hard work is part of life. There was a certain type of primate that you could go and clean and yet docile enough so they stayed in the same area as you.

Sounds dangerous but it wasn’t. If I remember correctly they were Lemurs a type of primate and would just be curious and drop on your head. They also liked to be hand fed as it’s easier than foraging.

Some of the students had terrible experiences during their co-op program learning absolutely nothing so getting covered in monkey poo was worth the early mornings. It can’t be that bad, I’m talking about it now.

This co-op program and the other jobs I had growing up were nothing huge but they taught me life lessons for which I am grateful now. Where I currently work we have students turn up for a co-op program and hopefully they take away experiences that they can apply to their future career.

Most of the students we’ve had come through have been great but you get the feeling some just don’t have the same work ethics as others. I’m not sure if it’s just the youth of today being of a different generation or whether we were just the same and yet thought we were just plain fantastic.

Although I didn’t learn how to budget as a student from my co-op placement I certainly walked away with some experiences that have taken me to different levels even in my career today. If you are thinking about a co-op program I can tell you that it’s worth the time and experience that you put in and get out from it.


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Should your career choice be up to your parents?



When trying to pick a career choice for the rest of your life it’s not an easy task for someone who may still be a teenager and still in high school.

The reality is that many people go on to change careers over the course of their life for many reasons.

Does money and success buy you happiness?

Sure, everyone wants that great career that pays out more money than the actual amount of effort put in. However, not everyone is built the same and one persons passion will be different from another.

The work ethic, studying philosophy and creativeness begins at an early age, depending on what your child finds an interest in.

I can quite easily say that there is also some inherent genetics that play a part as my own brain and interests are definitely similar to my fathers.


How to encourage your child


I can remember as a child growing up that my parents had obviously seen that I had an interest and certain developing skills that led them to encourage and pursue similar activities for me.

They also bought toys and encouraged my interest in activities related to it. It’s important as a parent to be mindful of what your child does and how they progress through the stages of life. If you notice your child loves to sing ask them if singing lessons or joining a choir might interest them but don’t force them into it.

At the time, I never thought much of it. Looking back now, I can see how this attention has had an effect on what I’ve chosen as a career choice.

Reading with a child can also encourage creativity or practicality, which is a shame as I didn’t inherit the same passion for reading fiction that my mother has. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy reading. My reading habits tend to be more practical, manuals, numbers and facts and figures.


Career choice


Choosing a career for kids at an early age is pressurizing your desires onto your children in the hopes that they might be more successful than you. As adults we already know how hard it is in the real world and how much it costs to pay for bills and keep a roof over our heads.

We want out children to be successful with money because then we feel that they are taken care of financially if they make all the right moves. That doesn’t often happen or it backfires on some parents who force life on their children rather than guide them.

Many parents today if they have the extra money in their budget put money aside in a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) through the government so that the child has less of a financial burden on them when they go to school.

This by no means should be used as a way to force your child to become a doctor or put into a career that they don’t want to do.

Some parents force what their child must pick for a career choice but this might only bounce back and hurt them in the long run. They won’t be happy.

Other children must take out Ontario Student Assistance Program loans (OSAP) if they don’t have enough saved for their career choice education which must be paid back after their education is completed.

Not all children want what their parents want from life and it’s not right to force a child to be someone they don’t want to be.

What if you have a successful family business and expect your child to take over and they don’t want to but you make them feel guilty about it? Is that right? No.

I’ll always remember that my mother was supportive of the fact that whatever I chose would be the right choice. She said “do whatever makes you happy”.

My parents owned a few businesses that were successful while I was young but I certainly was never pressured to run them for life or start my own.

I’m thankful my parents didn’t tell me what I had to do for a career choice but allowed me to make my own decisions and mistakes in life even though they guided me along the way.


Best career choices


When I was at school in the UK at around the age of fifteen, we had to complete a career assessment test which was a standardised set of questions.

You filled in the descriptive and personality type statements with a pencil. From there it was all fed into a computer and it printed off the possible results for suitable career choices.

Sounds simple enough although it’s only a guide for you to make your final decision on what course to apply to.

As I understand there is or was something similar here in Canada in the Colleges and Universities where choosing a career quiz or career choice test is available to potential students from the guidance counselors and basically ran in the same manner.

Things may have changed since my wife went to school but this is what she remembers of her time in the education system in Canada from a younger age.

 To be honest, I don’t think anything on my career choices struck me with an interest.

At the time, we had a family business of which I did not want to take on although I helped out a lot while growing up. I always had a strong work ethic and certainly didn’t mind putting in the effort to achieve what I wanted.

I was one of those children who didn’t really know what I wanted to do, yet some kids at our school were hell bent on being a doctor or an architect.

I know for a fact that more than a few of those people are working in the fields they saw themselves in all those years ago.

Some of my old friends aren’t as happy as I would have thought though. Just because you made a career choice early on in life and pursued it with a passion doesn’t mean it’s going to make you happy.

Your passion may end up leaving you because you do it on a daily basis. You may also find that you look back and wish you did something that you didn’t or you failed to complete a course that today would make you very successful.


How to guide your child


There will always be a family influence on child development from what career the parents have to what the child’s siblings are interested in or studying for.

When I struggled with math, my father would write out multiple sheets of questions after explaining where I was going wrong. My mother would always correct my spelling and grammar when my use of the English language failed me. I was lucky to have parents who took an interest in my education and wanted to see me progress as best I could.

That was just correcting mistakes or building up general education. Guidance came in the form of exposure to different jobs, talking about what I liked about each one and then thinking of something that may suit me better. Either way, whatever I chose as a career choice they always backed me 100%.

We didn’t have lots of money at the time so they couldn’t pay for my further education. Today is a different story because what my parents worked hard for all those years is coming back to them. Earning money may take time but it also requires effort and hard work. They did support me though and encourage my chosen career choice path.

They left me alone when I had large projects to complete and hand out advise when they thought something might not work, not criticize my attempts.

Going my own way and turning to my parents for advice and support over the years has led me to where I am now, happy.

We’re not rich, but we are hard-working. We may not be the smartest people in the world, but we’re on the road to being successful enough to live well and hopefully retire early.

Life is not easy but we all have choices and although they may not be what we want we have to do what makes us happy. If going back to school again is something that will make us happy then find a way to follow your dreams.

I had to start over with my career choice when I moved to Canada and sure it was a struggle and we had to give up lots of luxuries but we did it. Like my friend Ian who also went back to College at age 30 it was very intimidating, stressful and challenging but I never let that get in the way.

Never doubt yourself and try not to think so far into the future because you might just plant the seeds of negative thoughts on goals you want to achieve whether long-term or short-term.

If you just believe in yourself the rest will follow because everything works out the way it’s supposed to be.

Did your parents guide you into a career or did you make your own career choice?


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How to handle when your spouse spends too much money

spouse-moneyWhen Money Becomes A Problem


Money can easily become an issue in a marriage when one spouse spends more than the couple earns.

Whether the spending habit was there before the union or it occurs as the marriage progresses it must be addressed before it spirals out of control.

As I was walking to my car the other day leaving a grocery store my eye caught a woman walking back towards her car.

Her husband was waiting at the car as she was throwing her hands up in the air obviously annoyed, as she approached their vehicle.

I heard her say ‘I thought we had money on that card’.

I am assuming she was unsuccessful paying for their grocery bill which brought up a lot of issues with her spouse.

Her husband with an irritated look on his face got out of the car and proceeded to head back into the store with her.

Not knowing their story and why the expected funds were not available I can only assume that there was a lack of communication or an oversight with their finances.

I don’t know how this story ended as I minded my own business and continued to get into my car but it reminded me of my past marriage where money was a very stressful part of our relationship.

Unfortunately this is also the case for many other couples whether it’s a marriage or a common law relationship.

Money fights and problems over finances are all too common in relationships and sadly are one of the top reasons many marriages end up in a divorce.

While I can say that fixing the money problems would not have saved my marriage looking back I think about how I could have dealt with our money problems more effectively.

We commonly hear the phrase ‘my wife spends too much money’ though in many situations the husband is guilty of this too.

Secret shopping in a relationship happens all the time and if you aren’t on the same page with your spouse financially this could easily cause a rift in the marriage if your spending gets out of control.

Trust is after all the basis of any relationship and when you break that money trust expect some major problems along the way.


Spouse spending habits


It is often advised to have the money talk with your partner before you get married so that you know what you are getting yourself into.

The last thing you want is to get married and learn after the fact that your new spouse is swimming in debt that they decided not to openly share before saying your vows.

Oddly enough many people are ashamed of their debt and they say nothing but this is the worst thing you can do and not a great start to a relationship.

While this is a great conversation before walking down the aisle spending habits often change and for various reasons, you may eventually find yourself with a spouse who just spends too much money. Nothing in life is guaranteed after all.

Excessive shopping can be a ‘drug’ for some people used as a form of therapy to combat stressful situations in their lives or as a result of other underlying issues.




It’s pretty hard in this day and age to survive without money so when a couple starts to run into money problems it can be too easy for your frustrations to take over your rational thinking and then the blame-games begin.

While you may know that your spouse’s outrageous spending habits are destroying your finances how you choose to approach the situation may also affect the outcome.

Nobody likes to feel attacked whether they are the cause of a problem or not. Being aware of your tone of voice and your approach to the conversation will start you off on a better foot then blaming your spouse for causing the money problems.

Instead of saying ‘You are spending too much money and it’s making us broke’ consider saying ‘I have noticed we are struggling to pay our bills lately, what can we do together to improve this?

Avoid ‘you’ statements and you may find you get a less defensive response and more of an open mind to fixing the problem, rather than putting up their guard because you attacked them.




If budgeting is something that you already do you may consider a different approach to it.

While a budget is a very effective tool for managing money in a relationship both sides have to be on board for it to work. Set your goals together, decide as a couple where you both want to be financially in 5 or 10 years and make a plan.

Review your budget together often, and discuss where you may need to make improvements. Help each other to stay on track by taking a look at how you are doing with sticking to your budget.

If you are not meeting your goals as a result of overspending then this is a good time to address how this overspending is affecting your budget and your long-term goals.


Access to Money


If your spouse is willing to work towards a solution then you have to decide what steps you are going to take.

What kind of spender are you?

If you are the reserved spender in the relationship consider coming up with a weekly dollar amount as a cash allowance that includes all money that is required for necessary expenses.

Leave a little room for miscellaneous spending and explain that once that money is gone there will be no more as there is no room for it in the budget.

Take full control of your money. I have a friend who often complains about their financial situation but when any advice is offered, being a stay-at home mom her response is always, “well it’s his money he can do whatever he wants with it“.

When you get married, buy a house together and start a family I strongly believe that ‘my money is your money and your money is my money’.

If your spouse’s overspending is affecting the quality of life for your family then consider taking away all debit and credit cards and be the one in charge of distributing your money between everyday living expenses, bills and their cash allowance.

While you want to avoid making them feel like a kid, that may in fact be what you feel like you are doing, but so be it.

If your spouse cares for the well-being of your relationship and/or family they should be willing to take responsibility and be accountable for their actions.

Until they are able to understand where the problems are and how it is affecting your lives it will be hard to convince them that they need to change.

Again consider your tone and choice of words when having these discussions.

Is it worth staying in the relationship?

You need to decide where to draw the line in the relationship. While everyone makes mistakes and sometimes they need to be taken as a learning experience, how many chances should one get when a problem has been identified and they refuse to be part of the solution?

At what point do you call it quits?

  • Is it a healthy relationship
  • Is it worth destroying your credit/future
  • Are you jeopardizing your happiness?

Be happy! You deserve it, money shouldn’t have to be a problem in a relationship, though it can be all too often. While no one really likes to talk about money the more often you communicate about it and share the financial responsibilities the better off you will be.

Unfortunately for some couples in this situation divorce may be the only answer if you decided to try to fix the problem and between the two of you are unable to find a solution.

If your spouse is unable to acknowledge the impact that their careless spending is having on your life together than it may be in your best interest to go your separate ways.

What advice can you offer to someone who has a spouse that spends too much money?



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